K-League 2008
|- Founded
Lower Division
National League
(No relegation)
Number of Teams
Asian Qualification
AFC Champions League
A3 Champions Cup
League system
Regular season where teams play each other home and away for a total of 26 matches. Upon completion of the regular season, the top six enter the championship playoff until the eventual championship final involving the prevailing side taking on the first placed team in a home and away series.
FA Cup
Hauzen Cup
Current Champions (2007)
Pohang Steelers
The Korea Professional Football League (K-League) is South Korea's top-flight professional club football league, with 14 member clubs.


The K-League was founded in 1983 as the Korean Super League, with five member clubs. The initial five clubs were Hallelujah, Daewoo, POSCO, Yukong Elephants and Kookmin Bank. Hallelujah won the inaugural title, finishing one point ahead of Daewoo to lift the crown.

In 1994, Korea's football league was reformed and renamed the K-League. Since its creation, the league has expanded from an initial five to fourteen teams. Of the five inaugural clubs, only Daewoo, POSCO and Yukong Elephants remain in the K-League; Kookmin Bank FC dropped out of the league at the end of 1984, and Hallelujah followed the season after.


At present the K-League is the only professional league in Korea, the K-League, and it contains fourteen member clubs.

Below the level of the K-League there is the National League, a closed semi-professional/amateur league with fourteen members, established in 2003. The third level of football in Korea is the K3 League.

There is, at present, no official system of promotion and relegation between any of the three leagues, however since 2006 the champions of the National League have been eligible for promotion to the K-League provided they meet certain criteria. Goyang Kookmin Bank and Ulsan Mipo Dockyard, National League champions in 2006 and 2007 respectively, both rejected the opportunity to move up to the K-League.

The league season

The K-League season typically begins around March/April and runs to late November each year. The number of games, clubs and the systems used have varied through the years, but for 2008 the league will operate with a full stage regular season followed by a top six championship playoff system.

The fourteen member clubs play each other twice in the regular season giving a total of 26 matches. The top six sides at the end of the regular season will enter the championship playoffs. In the first two matches, the third-placed team will face the sixth-placed team and the fourth-placed team will face the fifth-placed team, with the two winners then playing off for the right to face the second-placed team. The winner of that match will then progress to the two-legged championship playoff final where the first-placed side lie in wait, with the overall winner of the home and away series being crowned champions for 2007.

The K-League champions gain entry to the AFC Champions League the following season.

K-League member clubs in 2008

A number of the member clubs are owned by major Korean Chaebols, and the club names reflect that fact. Teams have adopted local city names in an effort to integrate themselves more with the local communities; for example, Daewoo evolved over the years into Daewoo Royals, Busan Daewoo Royals, Busan I'cons and latterly Busan I'Park.

Although a number of K-League teams have relocated in the past, the Lucky Goldstar (LG) corporation caused a huge controversy at the end of 2003 when they made the decision to uproot their Anyang LG Cheetahs team from the Seoul satellite city of Anyang and move into the empty Seoul World Cup stadium, becoming FC Seoul. Then following the 2005 season SK announced it was moving the Bucheon SK team to the island of Jeju, where they became Jeju United FC.

K-League history

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma are the most successful team in terms of championship victories, having lifted the title on no less than seven occasions. The roll-call of champions is as follows (present-date names included where teams have changed names previously):

K-League champions

Winners (year by year)

Year Winner Runner-up

1983 Hallelujah Daewoo
1984 Daewoo Royals Yukong Kokkiri
1985 Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso POSCO Atoms
1986 POSCO Atoms Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso
1987 Daewoo Royals POSCO Atoms
1988 POSCO Atoms Hyundai Horang-i
1989 Yukong Kokkiri Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso
1990 Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso Daewoo Royals
1991 Daewoo Royals Hyundai Horang-i
1992 POSCO Atoms Ilhwa Chunma
1993 Ilhwa Chunma LG Cheetahs
1994 Ilhwa Chunma Yukong Elephants
1995 Ilhwa Chunma Pohang Atoms
1996 Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i Suwon Samsung Bluewings
1997 Busan Daewoo Royals Chunnam Dragons
1998 Suwon Samsung Bluewings Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
1999 Suwon Samsung Bluewings Busan Daewoo Royals
2000 Anyang LG Cheetahs Bucheon SK
2001 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Anyang LG Cheetahs
2002 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
2003 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
2004 Suwon Samsung Bluewings Pohang Steelers
2005 Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i Incheon United
2006 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Suwon Samsung Bluewings
2007 Pohang Steelers Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma

Winner (by team)

Team Winner Runner-up
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 7 (1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006) 2 (1992, 2007)
Pohang Steelers 4 (1986, 1988, 1992, 2007) 4 (1985, 1987, 1995, 2004)
Busan I'Park 4 (1984, 1987, 1991, 1997) 3 (1983, 1990, 1999)
Anyang LG Cheetahs 3 (1985, 1990, 2000) 4 (1986, 1989, 1993, 2001)
Suwon Samsung Bluewings 3 (1998, 1999, 2004) 2 (1996, 2006)
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i 2 (1996, 2005) 5 (1988, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003)
Bucheon SK 1 (1989) 3 (1984, 1994, 2000)
Hallelujah FC 1 (1983)
Chunnam Dragons 1 (1997)
Incheon United 1 (2005)

K-League Sponsors

  • 1983-1985: Korean Football Super League (No Sponsor)
  • 1986: Football Festival & Professional Football Championship (Two kinds of championships, No Sponsor)
  • 1987-1992: Korean Professional Football Championship (No Sponsor)
  • 1993-1995: Hite Cup Korean League
  • 1996-1997: Rapido Cup Korean League
  • 1998: Hyundai Cup K-League
  • 1999: Buy Korea Cup K-League
  • 2000: Samsung Digital K-League
  • 2001: POSCO K-League
  • 2002: Samsung PAVV K-League
  • 2003-present: Samsung Hauzen K-League

All-time K-League member clubs

There have been a total of 17 member clubs in the history of the K-League - those clubs are listed below with their current names (where applicable):

Famous players

See also

External links

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